Mandela told to stay away
NELSON Mandela has been asked to stay out of the race row that has engulfed Springboks rugby for the past two weeks, his office said yesterday.
The former president of South Africa, 85, had planned to play an advisory role in a bid to find a solution to the problem, but was persuaded to move aside by sports minister Ngconde Balfour.
"He has stepped back now, following a discussion on Sunday with the minister," said Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s spokesperson.
"The minister told [Mandela] that it was not advisable to meet with any of the parties in the rugby row at this time.
"But [Mandela] remains available to give advice should it be requested. He was going to give very general advice and he has enormous wisdom to offer, which was purely the purpose of his initial position.
"He did not want to interfere in any way."
The King Inquiry into alleged prejudice within Springboks rugby was due to start yesterday, but was held up by a court interdict late in the day.
The national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, requested that the inquiry be held in public and filed an urgent interdict at the Cape High Court, which SA Rugby and the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) want to oppose.
"A new hiccup has arisen in terms of television," said Mvuleli Ncula, the chief executive of the SARFU.
"We have been served with papers seeking the hearing in public so we will be meeting and taking legal advice."
Retired judge Edwin King, 74, was expected to interview the first witnesses yesterday morning, but the inquiry had yet to draw up its Terms of Reference and therefore was unable to begin. Ncula added: "The Terms of Reference will be made public as soon as we finalise them, but these problems have definitely stalled the process and there will be no hearings [on Tuesday]."
King, who set up his office at the SA Rugby headquarters at Newlands in Cape Town, was jointly appointed by SA Rugby, the professional arm of the sport, and SARFU to head an independent inquiry into allegations made by former Springboks media manager Mark Keohane.
Last week, locks Geo Cronje and Quinton Davids were left out of the 30-man South Africa squad for next month’s World Cup following an alleged racist incident at a training camp.
Cronje, 23, was expelled from the squad’s base for allegedly refusing to share a room with Davids, who is black, for racial reasons, although he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal SARFU investigation.
However, further allegations of prejudice within the squad were presented to SA Rugby last Tuesday in a seven-page report by Keohane, who also resigned from his position that day in protest at what he called a "cover-up".
No time frame has been established for King’s inquiry, but SARFU hope that it will be "completed in the shortest possible time".
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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